10 Tips and Tricks to Engage and Excite Your Volunteers
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
Introduce yourself. When they sign up, they’ll probably see your name and contact info. Quickly follow up with an introductory email or a phone call, time-permitting. Say who you are and a quick description of your background or connection to the event. Stress that you’ll be the main point of contact leading up to the event.
Forge a bond. This is critical especially for events that aren’t taking place till say, three to six months down the line. Ensure that your volunteers are still committed by reaching out periodically. Make sure they know you are their go-to person and that you are reachable for questions, schedule changes and special accommodations, among others.
Talk up the event. So you’ve introduced yourself and are in the process of bonding with them. Keep them in the loop by discussing a number of things such as volunteer perks (see below), describing event highlights and special guests. The key is to keep them engaged and not lose interest.
DURING THE EVENT
Get to know them. Doesn’t it make you feel extra special when someone remembers your name? I get it. It might be challenging with hundreds of volunteers, but try your best especially with those working in your immediate surroundings like your assistants at the volunteer check-in booth or your two gatekeepers at the beer garden. Make them feel special.
Feed them. Who wants to work on an empty tummy? Not me. We typically feed participants, sponsors and other VIPs, why not volunteers? It doesn’t have to be a catered lunch. Just maintain a steady supply of fruits, protein bars and water, at the minimum. And coffee, for those early mornings and long days.
Show them some swag love. I discussed this in a separate post, but if you’re one of the few who have some big-name corporate sponsors backing your event, save some swag for your volunteers. If supplies are limited, hold a raffle towards the end of their shift. They’ll be over the moon.
Say or show your gratitude throughout the event. Even for just the tiny tasks, patting them on the back or saying “thank you” will go a long way.
Follow up with a personal thank you email. I have volunteered at numerous events and nothing leaves a sour taste in my mouth more than radio silence post-event. In this day and age, how hard can it be to send a thank you email blast one to two days after? Not super hard right? So get on this. If you only have a handful of volunteers, try to personalize the emails and address them by their first names. They will remember and love you for it.
Engage with them throughout the year. Send out “save the date” emails and updates. Give them an “in” on announcements or exciting new changes in the event.
Bestow a “superstar status” to returning volunteers. Akin to early reg or insider status, make them feel special by stating they can sign up early and get first dibs because they volunteered last year.